The interview is the first opportunity a licensee has to respond to the allegations in the complaint. The information given during the interview can shape the direction of the board’s investigation.
During the interview:
- If you are fuzzy on certain events, say so. It’s okay if you don’t remember.
- Don’t guess and don’t speculate.
- Don’t volunteer information that is not on point.
- Keep it short. If you haven’t answered fully, your attorney will direct you to expand your answer.
- Resist the urge to fill in gaps or pauses in the conversation; just answer the question and then wait for the next one.
- Be honest. If you feel you can’t answer a question honestly, decline to answer it or ask to discuss it with your attorney.
- If you’re confused by a question, ask for clarification or ask to discuss it with your attorney.
- If you need a break, ask for one.
Preparing for the interview is essential. Below are a few dos and don’ts when preparing for an interview.
Prepare thoroughly for your interview. Dates are important. A helpful exercise is to prepare a chronology for your attorney. This will refresh your recollection, educate the attorney, and should be protected from discovery later on.
Several days prior to your interview, review any records or documents involved. Also, review all of the relevant laws, regulations, guidances, and ethical codes. Your attorney can help you identify those.
Preparing for an interview does not give you license to breach HIPAA. If you are unsure about which patient files you may access and review, ask your attorney. In some cases you may have to tell the investigator that you can’t discuss a patient’s treatment until the investigator has obtained and shared the relevant records with you. Don’t make matters worse by accessing PHI unlawfully.
Also, please do not prepare for an interview by contacting the complainant or other witnesses. This is a major error because any contact with these individuals may be regarded as an attempt to influence or change their testimony.
A Final Note
It may be appropriate to express sincere remorse in your interview if your misconduct is beyond dispute and there is no danger of civil or criminal liability. If a health regulatory board believes that you have truly learned from your mistakes and taken corrective action, it may find that the risk of recurrence is low. Consequently, the Board will be less likely to restrict or revoke your license.